Werner Herzog’s Letter to His Cleaning Lady

Rosalina. Woman.

You constantly revile me with your singular lack of vision. Be aware, there is an essential truth and beauty in all things. From the death throes of a speared gazelle to the damaged smile of a freeway homeless. But that does not mean that the invisibility of something implies its lack of being. Though simpleton babies foolishly believe the person before them vanishes when they cover their eyes during a hateful game of peek-a-boo, this is a fallacy. And so it is that the unseen dusty build up that accumulates behind the DVD shelves in the rumpus room exists also. This is unacceptable.

I will tell you this Rosalina, not as a taunt or a threat but as an evocation of joy. The joy of nothingness, the joy of the real. I want you to be real in everything you do. If you cannot be real, then a semblance of reality must be maintained. A real semblance of the fake real, or “real”. I have conquered volcanoes and visited the bitter depths of the earth’s oceans. Nothing I have witnessed, from lava to crustacean, assailed me liked the caked debris haunting that small plastic soap hammock in the smaller of the bathrooms. Nausea is not a sufficient word. In this regard, you are not being real.

Now we must turn to the horrors of nature. I am afraid this is inevitable. Nature is not something to be coddled and accepted and held to your bosom like a wounded snake. Tell me, what was there before you were born? What do you remember? That is nature. Nature is a void. An emptiness. A vacuum. And speaking of vacuum, I am not sure you’re using the retractable nozzle correctly or applying the ‘full weft’ setting when attending to the lush carpets of the den. I found some dander there.

I have only listened to two songs in my entire life. One was an aria by Wagner that I played compulsively from the ages of 19 to 27 at least 60 times a day until the local townsfolk drove me from my dwelling using rudimentary pitchforks and blazing torches. The other was Dido. Both appalled me to the point of paralysis. Every quaver was like a brickbat against my soul. Music is futile and malicious. So please, if you require entertainment while organizing the recycling, refrain from the ‘pop radio’ I was affronted by recently. May I recommend the recitation of some sharp verse. Perhaps by Goethe. Or Schiller. Or Shel Silverstein at a push.

The situation regarding spoons remains unchanged. If I see one, I will kill it.

That is all. Do not fail to think that you are not the finest woman I have ever met. You are. And I am including on this list my mother and the wife of Brad Dourif (the second wife, not the one with the lip thing). Thank you for listening and sorry if parts of this note were smudged. I have been weeping.

Your money is under the guillotine.




Book Notes : The Book Against God

The Book Against God, abbreviated B.A.G., is the burden of Thomas Bunting, the protagonist of James Wood’s novel, a pilgrim in a holding pattern, between an unfinished thesis and a finished marriage, and an unfinished struggle with his father. Thomas, no longer doubting, no longer swinging away, cannot handle the wiliness of faith, but neither can he escape its pull. Well written and full of charm, though perhaps a little too on the nose, a little too much authorial signaling, it is nonetheless a striking story; a modern (and I only mean that in a slightly derogatory sense) Dostoyevskian novel writ in the voice of Ivan Karamazov, but a story that, fittingly, doesn’t end leaving the reader up in the air, between heaven and earth, to ponder his final fate.

Charles Darwin’s Pros and Cons to Marriage


“Children — (if it Please God) — Constant companion, (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one, — object to be beloved & played with. — —better than a dog anyhow. — Home, & someone to take care of house — Charms of music & female chit-chat. — These things good for one’s health. — Forced to visit & receive relations but terrible loss of time. —

W My God, it is intolerable to think of spending ones whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, & nothing after all. — No, no won’t do. — Imagine living all one’s day solitarily in smoky dirty London House. — Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music perhaps — Compare this vision with the dingy reality of Grt. Marlbro’ St.”


“No children, (no second life), no one to care for one in old age.— What is the use of working ‘in’ without sympathy from near & dear friends—who are near & dear friends to the old, except relatives

Freedom to go where one liked — choice of Society & little of it. — Conversation of clever men at clubs — Not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle. — to have the expense & anxiety of children — perhaps quarelling — Loss of time. — cannot read in the Evenings — fatness & idleness — Anxiety & responsibility — less money for books &c — if many children forced to gain one’s bread. — (But then it is very bad for ones health to work too much)

Perhaps my wife wont like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool —”

The Devolution of a Movie Poster

I was poking around movie posters when musing on Django Unchained and came across these three posters. Thought I’d say a few things on them.


That’s a nice movie poster. Wistful, pensive, the main character is looking back at his daughters because the theme of descendants, inheritance, is a major one. Red is a warning color, it sets us on edge, looking over his back adds to that effect. This is a well done movie poster than accomplishes all the artful aspects of what a movie poster should do. Of course, this doesn’t accomplish the business end of movie posters, which is GEORGE CLOONEY IS IN THIS MOVIE. Hence the next poster:

This is a monstrous poster. A hastily photoshopped Clooney who is looking off into nowhere (probably wondering where that second sun came from) misses the descendant aspect of the movie since he’s not looking at his offspring. He also looks unpleasant, something the ladies aren’t going to like. Plus that red might unsettle those that just want to gaze at Clooney’s beautiful face. Studio chief wants them to try again.

Ah, much better. Soothing blues, happy Clooney, no connection to the theme of the movie. Every good thing about the first poster has been removed. But at least the lighting is not absurd.

100 Classical Albums You Should Own : Michael Kennedy


Though perhaps a little overly taken by Beethoven and period instruments this list is extremely helpful in building a healthy library of music, despite its severe lack of sacred music. Click the above link for his write up of the recording details.


Concerto for two violins; Paris SO; Avid Records

Knoxville: Summer of 1915; Dumbarton Oaks Orch; Sony

Symphony No 3 (Eroica); BBCSO; Barbirolli Society
Symphonies Nos 5 and 7; Philharmonia Orch; EMI
Beethoven Symphony No 9 (Choral); Bavarian Radio SO; Philips
Violin Concerto; Berlin PO; Dutton
Piano Concerto No 3; NBC Orch; Naxos Historical
Piano Concerto No 5 (Emperor); Staatskapelle Dresden; Philips
Piano Trio in B flat (Archduke); EMI
Piano sonatas; Philips
String Quartets; Harmonia Mundi

Nuits d’été; Deutsches SO; Harmonia Mundi
Symphonie fantastique; Berlin PO; CBS.

Symphonies Nos 1-4; Scottish Chamber Orch; Telarc
Piano Concerto No 2; NBC Orch; Naxos Historical

Serenade for tenor, horn and strings; Boyd Neel String Orch; Decca
War Requiem; LSO and ECO; Decca

Violin Concerto No 1; LSO; Avid Records

Symphonies Nos 7 and 9; Berlin PO; DG
Symphony No 8; Vienna PO; DG.

Artur Rubinstein; RCA

La mer; Cleveland Orch; Decca

Brigg Fair, Appalachia, Hassan; LPO; Naxos Historical

Cello Concerto; Jacqueline du Pré, BBC Legends
Symphony No 9 (New World); Hallé; Hallé label

The Dream of Gerontius; Hallé Orch; EMI
Symphonies Nos 1 and 2; LSO; EMI
Enigma Variations; LPO Live
Violin Concerto; LSO; EMI
Cello Concerto; LSO; EMI

Messiah; Toronto SO; EMI
Water Music and Fireworks Music; Minnesota Orch; MMG

Paris Symphonies Nos 82-87; Concentus Musicus Wien; Deutsches Harmonia Mundi
Symphonies Nos 96-99; Royal Concertgebouw; Teldec
Symphonies Nos 102 and 103; Chamber Orch of Europe; DG
London Symphonies; Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orch; Nimbus

Das Lied von der Erde; Vienna PO; Decca
Mahler Symphony No 9; Berlin PO; EMI
Mahler Symphony No 10; Berlin PO; EMI.

Symphonies Nos 40 and 41; Staatskapelle Berlin; DG
Piano Concertos Nos 22 and 27; Scottish Chamber Orch; Philips
Four Horn Concertos; Philharmonia; EMI
Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola; LPO; BBC
String Quartets K465 and K590; Nimbus
Clarinet Quintet; Musical Fidelity

Piano Concerto No 2; Philadelphia Orchestra; RCA
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, The Bells; WDR SO; Profil

Daphnis et Chloé; Boston SO; Philips

Piano Trio No1 in B flat; Cortot, Thibaud and Casals; Avid Records
Piano Quintet in A (‘Trout’); Artur Schnabel (piano), three of the Pro Arte Quartet, and Claude Hobday (double bass); Avid Records
Four piano sonatas including B flat (D 960); Alfred Brendel; Philips
Piano Sonata in D (D 850); Clifford Curzon; Decca
String Quintet; Hyperion
Winterreise; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore; EMI
Symphony No 9 in C major; LPO; EMI

Piano Concerto and Carnaval; Myra Hess; Dutton

Symphony No 7; Royal Concertgebouw Orch; RCO
Symphony No 10; Cleveland Orch; Decca
Cello Concertos Nos 1 and 2 LSO; DG
Complete String Quartets; Borodin String Quartet; EMI

Sibelius symphonies; Boston SO and LSO; Philips
Violin Concerto; Philharmonia Orch; Dutton

Four Last Songs; Berlin PO; DG
Ein Heldenleben; Chicago SO; RCA

Symphony No 6; Mariinsky (Kirov) Orch; Philips
Piano Concerto No 1; NBCSO; Naxos Historical
Violin Concerto; National SO; Dutton

A Child of Our Time; CBSO; Collins

Symphony No 5; LPO; Somm
A London Symphony; Hallé Orch; EMI
Serenade to Music; BBCSO; EMI

Requiem; La Scala Orch; EMI

Belshazzar’s Feast; Philharmonia Orch; EMI
Symphony No 1; Philharmonia Orch; EMI
Violin Concerto; Philharmonia Orch; EMI

Continue reading “100 Classical Albums You Should Own : Michael Kennedy”

Movie Poster : Django Unchained

Despite my absolutely disdain of Quentin Tarantino, I’ve got to admit that this is a beautiful poster for his new film Django Unchained. While most posters now are but cliched glyphs, it wasn’t always so. Some of the great posters can be recalled years later: think Jaws, Vertigo, and Chinatown. A couple of modern examples would be There Will Be Blood and The Girlfriend Experience (which I wrote about here).

I love its simplicity, its menace, and I love how the characters below are -forgive me- linked together with the chain above them. Beautiful stuff.

Poetry Magazine : April : 2012


Eleanor Ross Taylor : 1920-2011

When I was two feet tall
and held the hand above,
how could I know
how far that limping bond would go,
that finger-inch of love.

A beautiful poem by Eduardo C. Corral : In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes

A snippet from Yusef Komunyakaa “An island is one…counterweight to the stars.”

2 poems from Karen An-Hwei Lee, deeply mysterious : Song-Riddle: Asian Box Turtle and Song of the Oyamel

From William Empson:

The coxcomb bird, so talkative and grave,
Who from his cage calls cuckold, whore, and knave,
Though many a passenger he rightly call,
You hold him no philosopher at all.

Vera Pavlova’s notebook is not to be missed. A fav:

“How do I feel about people who do not understand my poetry? I understand them.”